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Monday, March 7, 2016

Opt to Adopt !!!

I am soooo in love with these precious, funny, sweet, silly, goofy, grateful, smart, loving, amazing adopted rescue girls... Ella, Magnolia and Louise!
The joy, love and laughter they bring to our lives is a gift.  I want to share that love and joy with you.  To do that I am going to do series of posts on very special shelters that I came in contact with last year, while looking for a new sister for Ella after sweet Amelia passed away too soon after her arrival, in case you are looking to add more joy, love and laughter to your life :)
But, before I talk about shelters and rescue groups I think it is important to simply have a conversation about 

Adopt a Dog Decal Paw Print Just for the Dog Lover Dog Sticker Car Sticker on Etsy, $3.99:

First lets start with some statistics:   
Approximately 3.9 MILLION companion dogs enter animal shelters nationwide every year. 
And each year 1.2  MILLION dogs are euthanized.  
Take a moment and let that sink in.... ONE POINT TWO MILLION dogs are euthanized each year.
That is 3,288 dogs put to death each and every day of the year.
That is an obscene tragedy in my personal opinion.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." 
-Mahatma Gandhi- 

If you believe Gandhi's words then we are, sadly, failing. 

My goal is to share information and my own personal experiences on adopting dogs in hopes that someone who is considering adding a dog to their household will opt to adopt first before buying from a breeder, or a pet store. I realize that there are many reputable breeders across the country, some have commented on the blog when I've talked about adoption in the past, but adopting the unloved shelter/rescue dog is my passion and I want to do anything and everything I can to create an army of adopters! The best way I can think to do this is to use my voice on this blog.  I want to share my information and experiences with you in hopes that even one shelter/rescue dog will find a home.  If you have ever adopted a dog (or a cat; the number of cats euthanized each year is just as dire) then please tell us your story in the comment section of this post. If you are a foster or volunteer with a shelter/rescue group, please share the name of the organization (with any and all contact information) that you would like to promote.  I will link this post with your rescue/shelter recommendations in all future posts on adopting as a way to provide an easy source for referrals. This is a team effort-  I am simply getting the ball rolling:), but I need your help, so please share all experiences and information below so we can all be a part of the solution!  It takes a village.

 We have been adopting dogs for the last 23 years.  We have adopted five dogs over the years:
Kelsey, Ella, Amelia, Magnolia and Louise.
Well, now that I think about it technically that's not correct- we've actually adopted six dogs... here's the story:
 Our first dog, Kelsey, came from the Humane Society of Fort Worth  22 years ago.  She was a year old when we adopted her; she had been on the street for six weeks. Sweet Kelsey looked like a lab puppy her whole life- she was a Lab and Cocker Spaniel mix.  We know that because Lab owners would see her and be adamant that she was a Lab and Cocker owners were adamant that she was a Cocker! This happened her entire life.   At the age of ten and just two weeks before she died of a cancerous tumor on her lung someone asked me "How old is your puppy?!"  She, too, was a love. Everyone who met her wanted her - from the garbage man who wanted to know if she would ever have puppies because he wanted one (she was spayed of course), to the antiques dealer who after meeting Kelsey and finding out she was from the pound went to her own pound in her small Texas town and told them she would like a Lab/Cocker Spaniel mix!  The pound personnel had to explain to her that it didn't work like that and they didn't take special orders:)  Just like with Ella we always looked for a sister for Kelsey.  One day after antiquing in Fort Worth we stopped in at the Humane Society of Fort Worth to see if Kelsey's "sister" was there.  She was not.  But, while there we started a conversation with a woman who was walking around carrying the homeliest little porky dog and you could tell she just adored the dog.  I asked her if she was going to adopt the little dog?  She told us that she would love to but the apartment where she and her husband and children were living would only allow one dog and she was there to find a dog for her husband.  He had lost his job months before and was really depressed, and she thought a dog would engage him and help him find his way out of his depression.  She told us she had been working two jobs and wasn't at home as much and while she loved the sweet little homely dog, she knew her husband would like another dog that was there at the pound and that was the dog she was going to adopt.  I had Dan leave the room with me and we had a brief conversation and went back in the dog room and told the woman that we, too, had been through difficult times in the past and people had been kind to us, so if she would allow us we wanted to pay the adoption fee for the dog for her husband.  We explained that this allowed us to pay it forward for the kindnesses shown to us.   After her shock and tears wore off she very graciously accepted our offer and we adopted the dog for her.  She took our address and email and at Christmas of that year sent us a beautiful family card showing her family with the new dog!  The dog did help her husband out of  his depression and he found a new job.

Would we love our girls if we had bought them from a breeder... of course we would.  But, there is just something spiritual that constantly resonates in your heart when you have adopted an unloved dog...  knowing that you have saved that dog from a less-than life, a bad situation, an abused life, or perhaps even imminent death fills your heart with a special kind of gratitude and joy on a daily basis that can not be bought. That is the gift of adopting.  The act of adopting will make your heart full,  I promise.

After having adopted two dogs by meeting them at local shelters, and now 3 dogs sight-unseen via Petfinder I can say that both methods worked and worked well for us.  I will admit that when I first found out that Amelia was still in Texas and we couldn't introduce her to Ella face to face I was a bit concerned, but I trusted my heart and the signs ;) and believed in the process of the adoption journey and that I found her for a reason.  That trust did not disappoint.  Either way I think it is important to listen to your heart and fall in love.  You will encounter hundreds of deserving, precious dogs in your search and you will want to rescue them all, but you must be honest with yourself about what will make the best match for you and your family, including, and especially, any pets you already have in your household.

So, where to start looking to adopt?  Visit your local or regional municipal (these can be kill or no-kill) shelters, and search online for local rescue groups, sanctuaries and organizations and visit them in person, or at their adoption events where you can go to meet the dogs in person.
You can look online at pet adoption websites that post animals in need of homes from shelters and adoption organizations across the country, such as...
Adopt a
If you want a purebred dog, you can find them on the above websites, and you can also look at AKC Rescue Network for purebreds in need of homes

(if I'm missing any please let me know and I will add them)

Since the pros of meeting a prospective new dog in person are obvious, I will instead discuss the process of adopting a dog from one of the national pet adoption websites where you are adopting the dog from a long distance away without meeting them first.  I hope to address any concerns or fears you might have about the process.  Our three experiences of adopting without meeting have all been positive.  Please share your experience in the comment section below if you will.  If you have any questions please ask them in the comment section and hopefully I, or someone reading, will have an answer.

If you live in an area where (thankfully) there are not a lot of stray/abandoned dogs, like New Hampshire, then the above websites are invaluable to find a dog to adopt. Once on the websites you will enter your zip code and any other qualifying specifications you are looking for in a pet (each site is different.)  Several also have "advanced" searches where you can state that your household has dogs, cats, children, etc. to rule out any dogs that are not a good fit for that particular situation.  Your search starts with animals that are closest to your zip code and expands out from there.  Some dogs will have a lengthy bio and others, like Louise, have nothing written about them, so in that case I contacted the shelter to ask about her.  If you find a dog that is a great distance from you know that many of the shelter and rescues are geared up and capable of sending dogs to new homes, even if they are across the country, via transport, but other shelters/rescue do not have the capability to do so. If you find a dog that you are interested and it is not mentioned in the bio or the info about the organization if they transport or not then you will need to contact them directly.
When I found Magnolia I had looked from our current zip code in NH and not finding a dog that was a match I then typed in our old zip code in Dallas and from there I found Magnolia!  One never knows where or how our paths will lead :)

In all the dealings I had with different shelters and rescue organizations via Petfinder over the past couple of years I have found them all to be professional and dedicated animal lovers.  This is not Craigslist where some people are trying to dump their dogs.  These organizations are made up of people who are dog lovers and they are volunteering vast amounts of time and energy to find homeless dogs forever homes.   A good shelter/rescue group will answer any and all of your questions and tell you everything they know about an animal.  They are not trying to trick you into adopting a dog to get rid it, they are trying to make a perfect match so both parties are happy.
 After you find a dog you are interested in you will fill out an application.  Many shelters ask you fill out the application as step 1 (just because you fill out an application does not mean you are obligated in any way, it is just step one of their checking system to make sure an applicant is genuine.)  The organizations will then contact you and at this point you can ask further questions about the dog.  I made a list of questions that were important to us that I asked of each dog we checked into; for example: number one was always- what is the dog's energy level/ is the dog crate trained/ is the dog possessive with food, toys or bones/ does the dog shed and how much/ is the dog a barker/ does the dog have any separation anxiety that they are aware of/ does the dog have any special needs or medical issues/ is the dog housebroken/ etc.  Many of the questions were not make or break deals for us (i,e. Magnolia had heartworms) as I knew I could train many things out with positive reinforcement training, but I believe knowledge is power and the more information you have going into an unknown situation the better one is capable of handling it.
Many organizations also do home visits (as they did when we were adopting Amelia) to make sure that the paring is a good fit for all involved.  Amelia's shelter was in Texas, but they still had a network of people to do home visits- even up here in New England.  With a good organization you will also agree on your application that you will return the dog to that very shelter/rescue if for-what-ever-reason you can no longer take care of the animal, or that the animal is not a good fit.  Adoption fees and transport fees vary per agency.

In case you are not aware of the amazing networks that exist to get a dog (animal) to a new home in a different state I will mention a few:

1.  Transport Services

are private companies offering low cost transportation of dogs (and other animals) on climate controlled trailers (think specially configured 18-wheelers) from the south to the New England area.  During the drive up volunteers will meet the trucks at designated stops and walk and water the precious cargo.
This is the type of transport service that  brought Amelia to New England (photo above) and to us!
There are two companies that I am aware of:
Rescue Road Trips
P.E.T.S. Animal Rescue Road Trips

2.  Pilots N Paws-
is a 501c3 non-profit organization which connects general aviation pilots with animal rescues and shelters.  Pilots donate their time, plane and fuel to provide an airborne rescue mission for thousands of animals from high kill shelters, mostly in the South, where sterilization rates are low and overpopulation is a major problem.  Dogs are flown one, two or six at a time to rescue groups, shelters and adopters around the country.
Watch these wonderful videos about  Pilots N Paws ...

3.  Rescue Transports aka The Canine Underground Railroad-  
On any given Saturday or Sunday (and sometimes even in the middle of the week), people from around the country come together to help get dogs (and other animals) to safety.  This all-volunteer network of people is simply amazing.  They spend their own time and money to start these animals on the path to a wonderful new life."
source: HERE
One such animal rescue transport is Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transports.  The following is from their website:
 The Freedom Train is a mode of free, volunteer-based transportation designed to rescue animals from high kill shelters and abusive/neglectful situations, and transport them to screened and approved rescues and forever homes. This system is able to be successful, thanks to a large network of people who volunteer their time, gas money, and hearts, in order to see the animals reach their havens.

The Freedom Train is not an organization, but rather an ongoing effort. This means that the transporters who volunteer are much bigger than this one effort. They may volunteer for the Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transports™ on one occasion and for other transports on other occasions. Their hearts are just too big to belong to one transport system, and I am so appreciative of them for that. Each transport is important, because all of us have one goal in mind, and that is to see these wonderful furkids reach their safe destinations!

How It All Works:

The Freedom Train covers many states. There is a main focus on sending animals from the south to the northeast; however transports are often coordinated for other states outside of that region. Many times there may be rescues that have approved placement for animals without having a way to send them. In these cases, animal rescue transports play a vital role in assisting those animals to get to freedom and a new life. Saving these animals is a team effort, and when we work together, miracles can happen!

The transports are broken down into "legs", which are intervals of about 60-90 miles in length, one way. According to how many animals and their sizes, there may be between one and three vehicles needed on each leg. Transporters drive their legs, then hand off the animals to the next driver(s) at the next interval, in relay style, until the destination is reached. Many times, furkids are overnighted and then continue their journey the next day.

Screening is very important. Each receiver, whether it be rescue or forever home, is screened thoroughly before they are approved to receive any furkids riding the Freedom Train. The well-being of each animal is of the utmost importance and not treated lightly. All updates received on the furkids are shared with the transport angels who helped get them to their destinations!
If you would like to be a part of this amazing effort, or if you have further questions, please contact us.

Did you know that these types of dog rescue transports existed?!  Isn't it incredible?!
When you stop and realize the thousands of fine, intricate layers of people that are out there rescuing, fostering, training, advocating, posting, vetting , transporting one single dog it is mind blowing.
A HUGE thank you to each and every one of you.

I also want to share with you a book that changed my relationship with my dogs and made me the dog mama that I am.  I do not say this lightly.
I am a huge fan and follower of Cesar Millan, aka The Dog Whisperer.  Whether you are a seasoned dog owner or looking to adopt for the very first time I highly recommend that you read this book.

To Order HERE

I initially read the book after our first rescue dog, Kelsey, had died and I was shocked and saddened to learn of things that I had done that did not help her become the best and happiest she could be.  I had, unknowingly, enabled some of her antisocial traits she had around some dogs thinking I was protecting her (she had been abused before we adopted her and instead of helping her overcome those fears I enabled her.) That knowledge made me sad and vow to be better.

This is NOT a dog training book.  If anything it is a human training book;)  As Cesar says in the intro to his television shows  " I rehabilitate dogs; I train people."   In a nutshell it is a book about the psychology of a dog to help you better understand and communicate with your dog and what he/she needs to be happy and fulfilled as animals.  It teaches you to honor their needs, not just our own.  To see the world from their DNA.  Dogs are not little humans in dog suits, even though so many people treat them that way giving only affection and not discipline and exercise (a big backyard is not enough exercise and mental stimulation; you need to walk your dog(s).)  Dogs want you to be the alpha (alpha being the one in charge/in control) in the family.  If you don't claim that role they will, and untold problems will unfold.  Cesar teaches the power of "calm assertive" behavior.  When implemented this tool is life altering on so many levels.
I know this as a fact from a personal story.... when we lived in Dallas we had a neighbor who had four loud, unruly children and two large, obnoxious dogs- always barking day and night.  During one conversation with the wife I mentioned the book.  She seemed interested, so I went out and bought her a copy hoping it would help her with her dogs.  Several weeks later she rang my doorbell with tears in her eyes telling me that this book had literally changed her life.  And, not just with her two dogs, but with her four children!  She started being the alpha dog/mom with her dogs and children and began communicating with calm assertive behavior and her whole world changed.  I witnessed the transformation.  The dogs were walked regularly, and were friendly and social, and the children who used to yell and scream were now playing with kind voices inside and out, and she was happy. So, you can see when I say that this book can be life changing I mean it sincerely.

One of the most important take-away's from the book is - when you go to adopt a dog you should find a dog who's energy matches yours.  If you adopt a dog that needs a 5-mile run everyday and you don't even go for walks neither of you are going to be very happy and an unhappy, unexercised dog leads to behavior problems. If you already have a dog in the house even more important than your own energy is matching the animals energy.  This was a very important factor for me bringing in new dogs since Ella was older.

If you are considering adopting, please read the following two articles by Cesar Millan:

How to Adopt a Pet

Adopt a dog with the right energy

And finally I will close with this...
After we lost sweet Amelia, I received several comments and emails telling me of some of the amazing, wonderful dogs that some of you have lost.  So many said that you haven't had a dog in years (decades some) and just couldn't bear going through the pain of losing another beloved pet.  My deepest sympathy to all of you.  I know your sadness and pain.  I want to take this moment and encourage those of you who think you can't bear another loss like that to please read my words written just for you...

When you lose a pet you always question why they don't /can't live longer.  My personal belief is that the reason dogs/cats don't live very long is that we are supposed to love MANY of them.  We are supposed to learn the many lessons that only they can teach us-  patience, joy, hope, love, laughter, innocence, protecting, giving, and the hardest one of all...  how to say goodbye.
It is the lesson that can only be learned the hard way as there is no other way around it.  I have found that with dogs, the only thing that soothes and comforts the broken heart of death is to love another one.
Plain and simple as that.
  As difficult as it is, it is their legacy to you and to their universal pack that you love and rescue another, or two, or three... .  So, to those of you who wrote that your dog passed away x-number of years ago and you just can't bear to love again I offer you the only magic salve and implore you to adopt a dog that needs you and your love.  By doing so you will honor your last dog in the ultimate, most loving way.  Don't waste another year mourning.  Life is too short.  Open your heart and love again.  Let another dog teach you how big your heart really is.  There are SO many unloved shelter and rescue dogs that need a home like yours...
with love,


  1. What a thoughtful post. You took a great amount of time to write this, and it is appreciated. I too have always adopted shelter animals. Just this last year I found a group called Frosted Faces Foundation in San Diego. They rescue seniors that have been turned in to the shelter. Little hopes of getting adopted. Volunteers foster until the passing. I'm on my second senior. 16 years old!!! I don't know how long I will be lucky enough to host his remaining years, but look forward to it everyday. FFF pays all medical, and food is tax deductible.
    Again, fantastic post. THANK YOU!
    The House of Hampton

    1. much older sister susanMarch 7, 2016 at 7:12 PM

      Sharon, that is what we plan to do too! Older dogs are the best! God bless you!

    2. Sharon - does FFF only use local fosters?

  2. much older sister susanMarch 7, 2016 at 7:14 PM

    Joanie, I love this post!!!!! Wow such good information. It must have taken you hours and hours to write! Much of it made me cry remembering sweet Kelsey and our boy Vince. Love you, Dan and the girls.

  3. My favorite breed is the wonderful standard poodle- and I have three of them living with us here now; all three came from excellent breeders who would never allow any of their dogs to be given up if caring for them became impossible.I would be obligated to return them to the breeder if I couldn't take care of them. Before we brought our last puppy home,we did try to adopt a standard poodle, but it was impossible to find any avaiable to adopt unless you were willing to go as far away as the South, or Texas.Another obstacle was that many of the shelters wouldn't adopt out of state. Many years ago- we were able to adopt a young standard poodle from the breeder because she was returned due to the former owners not wanting to take care of her any longer. She was my heart dog and I miss her still so much.But- because she had been mistreated by her previous owners, she took a lot of time and energy before she became my 'perfect' dog :-)

  4. In 2003 I adopted a cocker I named Zac. He was older and I only had him two or three months. He was a calm dog, and that is why I named him after Prozac. Two years ago I adopted PB, a Shitzu. That is short for Peanut Butter. They matched him so well to me. He is independent and loves his toys. He plays "concerts" for me, and plays with his toys inside and outside. It is fun to watch him move them in lines or circles. I love my dog.

  5. Oh it made me cried too, especually the last part. i did too say that i ewll never have another dog after my sweet sandy died unexpectedly and tragically. She was also a rescue dog,and now i have maxi and rogo. She will always be my only girl since i have two boys and now to male dogs!

  6. Thanks for sharing all this excellent information. Our precious Sadie is a rescue. We will celebrate her adoption day on Wednesday, March 10th. It will be 4 years. Wee Rescue is the rescue group who we used. They rescue Lhasa, Shih Tzus, and Pekingese. We can't image life without this sweet girl.

  7. oh felicitaciones por la adopción de esos perros! Yo también adopto, dan mucha alegría a la familia.
    Cariños, desde Argentina.

  8. Oh Joan, what a wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful, informative post. If we are ever in a position to adopt another dog, I will save this post for the information. It has also made me think about doing a post on adopting a child through the foster care system, as our daughter and SIL did. EVERY time I look at my beautiful granddaughter, I think about the life they saved her from. And gave her a life filled with opportunities and endless love. She is my heart now and always. Thanks again for this beautiful post.

  9. This post should win an award! While I have never adopted a dog, I feel strongly that eventually I will. I donate as much as I can to a lot of different rescue groups and shelters. I see countless stories on Facebook everyday, likely because I have joined so many rescue groups. I can count on crying at least a few times a week, but sometimes tears of JOY! Thank you for taking a stand and using your blog for this purpose. I hope these organizations get a surge of donations and attention through your efforts!

  10. Angus is our third, and most recent Golden Retriever rescue. We had our first, Buddy, for three years before he passed from leukemia. We had Dozer, our second for only two years before he suddenly passed. We almost didn't get another dog but we were becoming couch potatoes and needed a reason to walk every day. Angus is 3, several years younger than Buddy or Dozer were, and he has much more energy but he is as sweet as he can be, despite a traumatic head injury that caused blindness and deafness in one ear. We found Buddy through RAGOM in Minnesota and Dozer and Angus through GRRR in northwestern Ohio. Both groups were thorough: application process and in-home interviews. They both definitely wanted to match us with the right dog. Each dog has had his own quirks: Buddy was so laid-back, he literally greeted a burglar in our home, and Dozer loved to be in the car, even when it was just parked in the garage. Angus is our first Golden who actually retrieves a ball and brings it back to us. We debated about getting a puppy but, like you, I felt like there was a dog who needed us as much as we needed him. Our sons say that our dogs hit the jackpot when they came to be with us, but we know the sentiment is reciprocal.

  11. Joan - thank you for such a wonderful post. We recently adopted our second rescue. Our first one was from a pound and we knew nothing about him. To say he was wild was an understatement but I could see deep down he was just frightened and needed love. I knew if we took him back he would be put down and I couldn't do that to him. It took lots of training and patience but he ended up giving us 14 amazing years and he was the most loving boy. Loosing him was so heartbreaking and like you say I thought it would be so hard to love another.

    We just adopted last December a beautiful yellow lab called Dudley who's 5. We found him through the most amazing rescue organization called Lou's Labs in Virginia. They rescue labs and lab mixes from the southern states and it's all by volunteers. They are all fostered and Lu's labs will pay for any treatment they need when rescued no matter what their chances are. They are passionate and so loving and have amazing people in their organization. Many dogs have heartworm including our dear Dudley but he has gone through the treatment and will live a happy and healthy life with us. They use the transport volunteers you mentioned. They give daily updates on their rescues on their Facebook page and each Monday send out a video with who's been rescued and adopted. They adopt within a 5 hour drive. They have made our family so very happy again.
    Sorry for the long comment but I wanted to pass on our experiences and give hope to those who aren't sure of adopting a dog and those who maybe shy away from heartworm positive dogs too. They give us so much love and make our worlds complete. Rescue dogs are the best. I've just loved reading your blog and how your girls are doing and thank you for saving them and giving them their forever homes.

  12. What a wonderful post! Over my life my family has adopted various stray dogs and cats via animal shelters, strays following myself and my sister home, or people "gifting" us with their dogs. Currently I only have two cats as our last baby came from (side note, please don't go to as its not quite the same type of site.) Our princess Chrissy was a 6 or 7 year old rottweiler that had been adopted from animal friends and returned a year later, only to be adopted again and returned after 3 days! She was again adopted a third time to be found wondering the streets. 3 years later we stopped in and found her. I was apprehensive about a rottweiler due to the "bad press" they get, however after a week those fears were gone and she had the best life for 4 years and when she passed I was heartbroken and have not been ready for another puppy until the last year and have once again started the search. Thank you for using your blog as a platform for spreading information about such sites and what joy rescue babies can be.

  13. I love this post, Joan. Thank you for being such an advocate for the dogs and for adoption! We've been fostering dogs for a local rescue (Canine Commitment of New England) for several years now, and I process adoption applications for them. When we lost one of our two labs last Memorial Day weekend, I was heartbroken. But very shortly after that, I was asked to foster a chihuahua....and he stayed with us! He was a great healer, a master snuggler, and I'm so happy to be able to share my heart and love with another dog.

  14. What a lovely post! We have adopted two mixed breed dogs and since you can get a pure bred through a rescue, I would continue to go that route. Thank you for sharing your sweet pups!

  15. Thank you for such a beautiful and loving post. All of our pets a adopted/rescue. They have brought years of love and joy to our family.

  16. I am so happy you wrote this post. It is so true; and it is the greatest honor to your dog you have lost to adopt another. Our hearts were completely broken when we lost our Georgie at 17; our "heart dog" I physically rescued in Los Angeles gang territory. We found "Pete"; a corgi mix (same as Georgie); on "Forpaws" a corgi mix rescue. He had been found on the side of the highway in the middle of Kansas with his sister. He flew out to us. Another one; came from South Texas; was brought in to be "euthanized" because she nipped a child torturing her; and a third one was on her way onto the freeway from Downtown Los Angeles.
    The "family rule"is two husband fell in love with her; and she is the "backup"!
    They all know they are rescued.
    I still miss having a Standard Poodle. Next, I will try to find a rescue one!
    I hope people who are afraid to be heartbroken again will take heed of what you say!
    So much joy comes from our dogs!!!

  17. ahhhh.. my husband and I were heartbroken after Tate died .. he was our 12 year old chocolate brown Standard Poodle. He was our baby, our Good Boy .. he traveled with us across the US in the car, he flew to Argentina and was the talk of the town ( they don't ever see Standard Poodles there ) and he lived until he was 7 .. when cancer ended his life way too soon.
    We always said we would get another dog, probably adopt one .. maybe a poodle, maybe something else .. it always depends on the dog .. the right one comes to you when the time is right.
    We were already talking about what kind of dog we would look for when my husband died suddenly, 7 months after returning to the US.
    Last year I adopted a little bitty Russian Blue kitten. She is my Little Girl.. she is loving and sweet and as brave as a warrior kitten can be .. then this past fall, I adopted Merlin. I saw his face online and immediately called the shelter and told them I was on my way to pick him up. He is this massive pile of hair with the bluest eyes and the croakiest voice. And when I come in the room and his eyes are closed , I whisper his name, he starts to purr... not even opening his eyes, he just purrs.
    And all is right with the world... our little world.

  18. What a lovely post in support of rescue dogs. However, I do wish that you would not discount purebred rescues or buying from a reputable breeder. Many people, including me, have specific needs and wants for any dog they bring into their homes, and for my needs and wants I will always go to a reputable breeder for a purebred dog. Are you aware that the majority of the dogs euthanized by shelters now are young large black males and pitbulls/pitbull types? Many shelters are importing from foreign countries young small dogs in order to meet the demand for that size/type of dog. We've already had rabies brought in by some of those imports. Another story: our younger son and his wife went through a rescue to get their late dog. They did all the right things. Unfortunately the rescue did not and either did not know or did not tell them that this giant dog (who weighed more than our daughter-in-law) was dangerously dog aggressive. She knocked down and dragged both our DIL's parents, causing scrapes and bruises, when they took her for a walk and she saw another dog. Our son and DIL ended up having to euthanize her when she started showing signs of aggression toward their baby, a very painful decision made with the help of our long time vet, as they both did love the dog. By that time the dog was older and had a genetic nightmare for hips which were causing her a lot of pain and costing the kids a fortune trying to help her. Anyway, I'm thrilled your dogs have worked for you, just don't think that's the answer for everyone.

    1. Michele, I do not discount purebred rescues- I, in fact, mentioned that all the online rescue sites have purebreds and gave a specific link for purebred adoptinos if a person is looking for a purebred breed.

  19. Thank you for being such an advocate for rescue animals. Our family's pets have always been adopted and brought many years of happiness to us. Thank you again.

  20. Such a wonderful post. Thank you. I hadn't really thought about it in those terms, but Cesar's recommendation to adopt a dog that matches your energy is so true. We have been very fortunate that my mostly intuitive choices have been perfect in finding our last two rescue dogs. They each seemed perfectly suited to my husband's and my personalities and energy. When our last dog died we wondered if we'd ever find another dog so well suited to us, but I was fortunate in our next pick. Though she's mostly border collie, she's not in the least hyper and we have lots of space for her to run. She is so attuned to us and is a perfect companion even though our energy levels don't match a border collie's! But she is amazingly mellow for the breed, and so loving!

  21. Joan both of our boys were adopted through Double Dog Rescue in CT. They came from down south. DDR is an amazing volunteer organization and I highly recommend them.

  22. Joan: God bless you for being a rescuer, and thank you for this wonderful post. I highly recommend The Pet Rescue Center in Mission Viejo, California. The can be found at My husband and I adopted Sammy, our pit bull, from them in 2012. A couple of years later they made a promtional video about him and their organization and entered in a contest sponsored by Ellen Degeneres and Petco. They won the grand prize of $100,000 to further their wonderful adoption efforts. You can see the video at: After our Wheaten Terrier passed away at the end of 2013, we adopted another dog from The Pet Rescue Center - a little terrier mix we named Lucy. She and Sammy are best friends and bring us so much joy and so many laughs. PRC pulls dogs and cats from "kill" shelters, gives them necessary medical attention and socialization, and conducts numerous community outreach events to get the animals adopted into loving, forever homes. Thank you so much for taking up this cause - rescues are just the best and deserve the best!!!

    1. I live in Montecito; but I know all about the Pet Rescue Center in Mission Viejo and the great work they do! The Lange Foundation does the same in Los Angeles...rescues dogs and cats from high-kill shelters "death rows"

      Oprah is my next door neighbor; I gave her a "rescue in her name" around 10 years ago.... from the Lange Foundation .and she did a show on the Lange Foundation and "puppy mills"! She had no idea of the overcrowding of shelters; and no idea of "puppy mills"! Once she found out; she acted!!!!
      She has had an enormous impact.

      Really! Still more needs to be done; but awareness keeps getting better! Lovely post, Cindy! Keep up the awareness!!!. That is key!!

    2. How nice to see a reply from you Penelope. I have followed your blog and admired your lovely home and gardens for years. It's nice to learn that someone who has such an appreciation for the beauty in life also sees the beauty in rescue animals.

    3. How lovely of you to say! I appreciate that from my heart!!

  23. Wonderful column! I think "dog breeding" has gotten out of hand. Anyone can breed and sell dogs. This is an area that I think people should be required to have some sort of license to do business and there should be more regulation if nothing else maybe to discourage those who are just interested in making a buck and don't really care for the welfare of the animals.

  24. I am rereading Cesar's book. I have it. I need to learn the lessons again. I am not doing it right!!!

  25. Really loooooooove the pictures of your dogs !!
    Before we had 5 dogs ( all different breeds ) and 2 of them came from people who died or divorced.
    Four of them died of age.
    After that we took care for (another) labrador-retriever from a couple who couldn't take care of her anymore.
    Never regret these choices and love(-d) each of them !!!!
    Hugs from The Netherlands,

  26. I love your passion, Joan! I had a rescue dog for 16 years... she saw me through births of children, financial woes, divorce, remarriage... she was a blessing! We will adopt again in due time; I'm pinning your post for reference when the time comes. THANK YOU for such an inspired and informative post! xo Heidi

  27. The best thing about adopting dogs (and cats) is that the animal has already been evaluated for temperament and personality, and it's easier to find one that is a good fit in your family.

    I worked in Greyhound adoption for 15 years. I manned booths at events, processed applications, performed home visits, mentored new adopters (especially those who needed help with cat/dog introductions), and I spent many a Sunday morning on the Greyhound Underground Railroad ... driving a segment of the route that brought dogs from Florida to the northeast. That's how we got our Daniel. He was a transport dog, on his way to a foster home in Richmond. One week later, he was in OUR home!

    Our most recent sight-unseen adoption was Winnie. Her photo and description touched me, and I knew that she was our next dog. Told Steve about it after the deal was done (he was on a business trip at the time). It's been two years now, and we all are VERY happy with the match.

    Your girls are the perfect ambassa-dogs for adoption. Any of your photos would be a wonderful poster.

  28. Oh my, when my big lug Jack(a rescue off a garage sale site, at a time when I was NOT looking for a dog) is on my last nerve today I will remember your wonderful post. He is a wonderful American Bulldog mix who had been through 3 owners at 10 months. Now 5 years old I am fortunate to have him.

    1. It just took him 3 tries to find his soulmate.

  29. Loved this post! I always am happy to see people spreading the word about adoption. My husband and I fostered many dogs until we decided we were able to adopt our own. We decided to adopt two little pugs who are now family. They are the best little dogs and I love them to pieces!

  30. I have adopted from both Poodle and Pooch Rescue in Orlando, FL and Florida Poodle Rescue in St. Petersburg, FL. I will send contact info for both. They are amazing groups! Poodle and Pooch Rescue is currently helping with a horrible situation in the Everglades area where dogs and cats are being dumped. Thank you Joan for shedding light on the rescue/adoption movement.
    Poodle and Pooch Rescue :
    Florida Poodle Rescue:

  31. I wanted to let you know of a special lady that lives next door to me. Her name is Linda Monaco and she is a dog trainer and behavioral specialist running her own business helping et owners. But that is not what I really wanted to share about her. Three years ago I found 3 dogs in a farmer's field not far from my home. Thinking two of them were small bears I stopped to look and realized they were two big furry puppies and an older dog. Somehow I got them all in my van and took them home not knowing what to do. Long story short I contacted Linda my dog training neighbor and she got the info out in emails to lots of people. (We had 5 dogs with these 3 added, a small home so I couldn't keep them.) Well one of the puppies was adopted. So what I wanted to share with you in case you wanted to share with your readers is about a program that is run here in eastern North Carolina at Eastern Correctional Institute (You can see it here: Linda took one of the puppies to the prison and it was housed in the prison along with several other dogs to participate in the New Leash on Life Program. My found puppy was trained by a prisoner with Linda heading up the training. At the end of the training a presentation is put on showing the dog and the prisoner's skills. I was invited and saw Abbey perform and I got to meet her adoptive family! It was wonderful. So please share with your readers to check out their area to see if the prison system has a program like this because they can adopt a dog that has been through wonderful training! And by the way, the third older dog that I found did not find a home (I guess because she was older and black haired) outside of our home and she is still with me and everyday she says thank you to me and I tell her thank you for finding me!

  32. I found my dog, Luna, on! She was a stray in Tennessee and brought up to NH by Great Dog Rescue ( She had give birth to two adorable puppies in her foster home who were adopted very quickly; the foster home couldn't believe someone wanted the mother dog as well! Apparently rescue organizations who bring up a dog family from down south are often stuck with the mother dog. :( We didn't get to meet her before we signed the paperwork and arranged for pickup, but I felt confident, as they say, there's no such thing as a bad dog!
    My heart broke for Luna when I heard that she and her puppies howled all night when they were separated in the 48 hour quarantine before we could take her home. She was so skinny and saggy from nursing. It pains me to look at photos of the first couple weeks she lived with us.
    But, we fed her delicious food to get her strength up and lots of short walks to get used to our neighborhood. We had a trainer come to our house to help teach US how to be good dog guardians and learn how to teach Luna the rules of her new home (most important: no chasing and pinning the cats!). It's been over a year now and it's been such a pleasure to take care of Luna and watch her become part of our family. I just love my sweet puppy angel so much.
    I'm so grateful to dog adoption agencies for taking dogs in and matching them up with homes! Thanks for spreading the word, Joan!

  33. Just seen on Facebook this morning - a wonderful story of dog adoption and it's deep impact and a life uplifted. Our dogs do change our lives in ways we can never imagine! xo Betsy

  34. Love this post! You are so right -- rescued animals make the best pets and it does your heart so good to know you have saved a life!

    We have rescued six pets over the years from various rescue organizations -- The Humane Society, Petfinder, The Golden Retriever Rescue, Little Orphan Angels (might be local here in Tarrant County TX), Operation Kindness...

    I have also taken part (three years now) in a Thrift Store/Pet Benefit for Sheltered Animals -- a blogger friend started this effort to help promote Thrift Stores that benefit shelter animals. Here is my first post that introduces you to my own rescued animals as well as provides links to a few helpful pet/shelter organizations.

    Thank you for being such a great advocate for homeless pets -- I really hope that someday there is no need to euthanize and find homes for so many sweet animals!

  35. The best dog/owner training books I ever read and used were written by The Monks of New Skete. The Art of Raising A Puppy; and How To Be Your Dogs Best Friend. Excellent, well written books. A must on every dog owners book shelf. Cats are a whole different ballgame!! Lol!!

  36. Joan,
    I loved this post. We have two rescue dogs. Our large dog is sweet by nature and very calm. Our little dog is a Jack Russell mix and she's smart and loving but has issues with strangers. I will order Caesar Milan's book, I watch his show, but would love to get some detailed information on how to help our terrier mix with her issues of fear. She is the best behaved dog when it is just my husband and I but prefers to be in the crate when there are people around.
    Thank you for this post. I'm going back to read all of the comments.

  37. What an inspiring and informational post!

    I have been volunteering at our local shelter in Kenai Alaska for almost 10 years. We have been foster failures more than once. Our current family consists of 5 dogs and 4 cats. All pound or found. Reading your blog over the years I have found a kindred spirit!

    Thank you for using your beautiful blog to reach out and educate about saving these sweet vulnerable creatures.

    With love and respect,

  38. Hi Joan.

    I think this may be my first time commenting on your blog, but I love it and read it constantly. My fav posts are about your fur babies; they are just the cutest! I cried when I read about your Amelia and was so happy for you when I read about your newest loves. Thank you for this post. I had never rescued a dog; until recently. I already had 2 dogs when my mom passed away. We had spent years caring for my mom and both my sister and I felt a void after losing her. So, being completely aware of why I was doing this, I decided to rescue a dog to fill this void. I saw a little dog at my local SPCA that was so depressed that he had his back to everyone, and would just look over his shoulder. He had just been adopted and returned the next day. He also came from a hoarding situation. So he decided to adopt me and join our little family. My other dogs were a male and a female. Coming from a hoarding situation, he was not house trained. Adding to that, my other male is extremely jealous and began marking things in the house. I wish I could say that everything has straightened out. It hasn’t, but it is a lot better than it was. However despite dealing with this, I am not sorry and I love my fur babies so very much. I can’t wait to get home from work to be with them. My little rescue is so attached to me that I have never felt this much love before from any animal or human. When I come home, he has to physically love on me before going outside to do his business. Without a doubt, I know that I will rescue any future dogs that are a part of my life. Someday when these babies are gone, I will consider fostering as well. I just ordered the book you recommended to see if there is anything in there that will help with their “bathroom” issues. I also enjoyed learning about black dog syndrome from you, which I had never heard of. I can tell that you and your husband and your fur babies are very special and are blessed to be in each others’ lives. Thanks again for all your wonderful posts. Linda R (Phila burbs)

  39. I am in awe of your good works - writing this blog about dogs. You have left me in tears with the last will of a dog. So simple yet profound. You are awesome! The girls are adorable! My two boys (rescue) have a crush!

  40. I have always had cats, for 50+ years, many of them strays I have loved each one. The last one died 18 months ago & she was so special. She was a stray that my daughter took in & when she could no longer keep her she came to us. We had her for 18 years & I still cry if I think about her. I cannot have another one as none would measure up & it wouldn't be fair.

  41. What a wonderful post! I'm so excited to read more as your story progresses.
    My husband and I have been fostering for the past 15+ years. We started out with an amazing Cocker Spaniel Rescue ( Shorewood Cocker Rescue. They are the BEST! I can't say enough good things about them. When we moved from WI we continued to help them by transporting a darling little cocker from NC to WI when we went up to see my husbands family for Thanksgiving. it was a win win for everyone!
    In NC we worked with Loving Pet Inn Adoptions. ( Another amazing rescue! Dara does some great work with free spay and neuter programs. She will spay or neuter with no cost to the owner just to reduce the amount of unwanted puppies. She's amazing! This is an all breed rescue and we fostered lots of fun and different breeds.
    We also fostered for Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue. Unfortunately most of these poor souls came from puppy mills so they were extremely damaged. It took time, patience and LOTS of love to gain the trust of these babies. But once we did they were amazing little dogs.
    And now that we are in AL we have just begun fostering again (since the big move) with Two by Two Animal Rescue. They are a wonderful organization and we have our second foster who is just a love.
    All of my dogs have been rescues and all of my dogs have been purbred cocker spaniels. Before I knew of rescue organizations I adopted from shelters. We've had a couple of long term fosters who for all intents and purposes became ours until they passed on. The love of a rescue is like no other. They know that they are loved and nothing bad will ever happen to them again. We will be there until the end, until they take their last breath we will be right there with them, whispering sweet words in their ears as they drift off.
    Thank you again for sharing your experiences! And while I love love love your house posts this is a fabulous idea! Kisses to all your babies.

  42. what a wonderful post!! this is a fabulous Bulldog rescue....

  43. What a wonderful post! There are many breed specific rescues as well, that do good work. I have a Brittany and I volunteer for NBRAN-National Brittany Rescue Adoption Network.

  44. Our sweet black lab, Burleigh, came to us from Lucky Labs Rescue in Charlotte. For four years now, Burls has been the gentle, loving heart of our family. And I have lost 20# walking with him and having fun outdoors. He is slowing down now, but I still tell him each night at bedtime that I am the lucky one. Bless animal rescue volunteers, the vets who work to heal dogs that come into care, and all the folks like you who spread the word that rescued pets are absolute treasures. Best wishes.

  45. Joan I have read this post 3 times. We have 2 rescued pit bulls that are our hearts. One is going for surgery on Monday to remove a hopefully fatty tumor from her chest. I belong to an organization called A Hand For A Paw and we offer low cost vaccinations once a month and we microchip for $25.00. You can check this out before you publish this comment. We also give away tons of food - dry and canned for dogs and cats, toys, bed, kitty litter and anything else we have. They are the greatest group of people you could ever meet and by volunteering I get to play with all the animals. I'm sorry but I have to be anonymous because I don't know how else to sign in. I love those pictures of your dogs please keep them coming. Thank you so much for spreading the word about adopt DON'T shop. Patty

  46. I volunteer with Isle of Wight County Humane Society in Virginia. We are an all volunteer, non-profit, IRS recognized 501c3, and we foster animals in our homes. We do not own a facility or have paid employees. We provide medical and spay/neuter grants for people who cannot afford vet care. We offered free spay/neuters in February and continue to be overwhelmed with the response. We pay for all vet care for our foster animals and our animals are thoroughly vetted before being available for adoption. Our web page is or or search for Isle of Wight County Humane Society on Facebook. I also have two rescue dogs, one my MIL rescued from her local shelter. We inherited him (my heart and soul) when she passed away in 2007. My husband rescued our other dog from the very busy street in front of his work. Thank you for focusing on adoption.

    1. You and your husband are blessed.....and those dogs did and do know they are too!
      This wonderful blog post will reach selling....shut down all puppy pet shop purchases......and we will end the killing in shelters!
      My goal in my lifetime!

      (what is an MIL?) Please try to make these comments understandable to ordinary citizens! Thank you so much!!

    2. MIL is Mom in law. Sorry for using unfamiliar acronyms.

  47. A beautiful post!!

  48. Joan, you have the most loving, giving heart! I am crying as I read your post to my husband! I have so many friends who have said exactly what you mentioned: "I can't take the hurt of having another pet die." I will share this beautiful post with them. We had 4 dogs for a while & now just have our beloved Scarlett (11-yr old Boston Terrier). Your 3 darling girls are so fortunate to have such a dear, loving mom like you.

  49. You go Kathy!

    The "hole in your heart" goes away with another rescue......and you make that dogs whole life! Think of the doggie! (not just you!) Open your heart.....what rewards will follow!

  50. Thanks for your great post on adoption yesterday! I volunteer with the Northeast Coonhound Rescue near Boston and I LOVE when folks out in the world share their gorgeous personal stories around adoption.

  51. Thanks for your wonderful post on adoption! I can't recommend it enough - it's not always easy but it's ALWAYS worth it!! Theses beautiful dogs will love you forever. We have worked with for our last three adoptions. They are wonderful!

  52. Thank you so much for posting about adopting shelter dogs. I know you will save more lives than just your own sweet girls! Folks can check out breed specific rescue organizations if they want a particular breed. My own dogs are all rescues and all are pure breeds. I foster for Cavalier Rescue USA, an organization devoted to rehoming Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. My 2 sweet munchkins are "failed fosters" because I fell inlove and couldn't part with them. They were 3 and 5 when I adopted them, a male and female, black and tan pair. Both were healthy, very well trained and super sweet and cuddly, the couple that gave them up were moving and couldn't take them along.
    After raising 5 dogs and fostering 11, I have learned the secret to a good dog = a good dog is a TIRED dog! They need daily exercise and since we do too, it's the best way to bond and keep fit!
    Check out the Cavalier Rescue website:
    My current foster, Chaz, an adorable 7 year old tricolor boy, will be listed on there soon in Northern California.

  53. I wish that I lived next door to you and we could be friends. You are such a kindred spirit. All of your posts concerning your beloved pets have made me laugh and cry and touched me so deeply. I have had a life time of loving and caring for the unwanted. They in return have given more than I could have ever imagined. I only hope that I live to be very old so that I can enjoy many others before I am gone.

  54. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! I hope that people will learn and not purchase from breeders, there are far too many lonely animals waiting for homes.

  55. In reading your post I think back on all the dogs I've loved and lost over the years. I've never been without a dog my entire adult life. Each one has a special place in my heart and I will never forget any of them or their unwavering devotion or love. Currently I have four dogs; one is a rescue from the Poodle Rescue of Houston. I was visiting my sister with my dad who had rescued a poodle from them a few years earlier. I went with him to visit the rescue to show them how well "Buddy" was doing. I promised my husband I would not come home with another dog. I knew I was in trouble when I saw a tiny little yorkie/poodle cross. He was just standing there looking up at me. Silent. While all the other dogs were barking around us. Long story short, he flew home with me. He's been the best little friend and back warmer. Thank you for bringing this important issue into the light.

    Warm Regards.

  56. What a beautiful post. I have two rescue dogs. The first one, Miss Marley, came by my soft hearted son. He went to school with a boy who had a pit bull mix puppy who he was " trying to make mean." My son offered $100 for her and she came home with him. She is the sweetest most loving girl. A true gift. When my son went away to college Marley went into a deep depression. She wouldn't eat and was constantly sleeping. Not herself at all. My husband and I went to our local Humane Society. We found our boy, or should I say, he found us. He was only a year old, but no one was looking at him because he was SO timid. My eyes locked with his and I instinctively knew he was my dog. Miss Marley perked up as soon as she met him. She immediately started mothering him as if she had given birth to him. It has been seven years. These pups have brought such tremendous joy to our lives. I feel honored and proud to have given them their forever homes.

  57. What a lovely story! Of course; that was the right thing to do; which you knew, instictively!

    Bravo! How wonderful for you and both of those dogs! Keep it up!!

  58. I am sitting in my backyard on a beautiful unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon with my brand-new rescue dog (as in 24 hours with our family). He is a purebred Boykin Spaniel from the amazing organization Boykin Spaniel Rescue. I could not recommend adoption from BSR more highly, and Boykin Spaniels in general if yours is an active household that enjoys being outdoors with your dogs. Boykins are the state dog of SC and make wonderful family dogs. Great post!!

  59. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for taking the time to advocate for rescue animals. We also are dog rescuers--we used to volunteer for a rescue, and well, our family grew. Each one of our dogs is a rescue and a treasure who have saved us as much as we have saved them. And for those are do want certain breeds, two of our dogs are "pure bred." One is a St. Bernard and another is a Newfoundland, so pure breds are out there through rescue groups if you take the time to find them. But we love our mutts just as much. They are all our precious babies and someday, when the time is right, we will be fortunate enough to rescue another dog who needs a home and we will meet another special unique little soul.

  60. Rescued dogs are so precious. Joan, I liked the Cesar Milan books, but LOVED this Israeli woman who uses a different approach that seems more respectful. I think you'll really like her, too: Tamar Geller. She has written books.


Welcome! Thank you for leaving a comment; you have no idea how much your comments inspire me to keep writing- I appreciate each and every one. Comments are moderated by me prior to publishing on the blog, so if you don't see your comment post immediately it will be posted as soon as I receive and read it. joan